Beatriz Santiago-Torres has always loved to cook for others, especially traditional Puerto Rican dishes for her family. But after the Randolph resident’s daughter convinced her to start posting recipe videos on TikTok as @cookingwithbeatriz last December, nearly 30,000 followers are enjoying her cooking too.
It makes her feel good, she said, when people “try [her] food, and say ‘oh my God, my whole family loved it.’” Several of her food posts now rack up tens of thousands of views — including a December recipe hack video featuring her Puerto Rican spin on packaged ramen which brought in 104,000 views and more than 11,000 likes. Though surreal, this feeling is not unusual for many sharing food content on the app.
As TikTok’s popularity surged through the pandemic, recipe content featuring food hacks, shortcuts, and creative innovations received hundreds of thousands of likes and sprung copycat videos. Thanks to its unique algorithm that shuffles and randomizes content out to users, these famous food videos weren’t just coming from well-known influencers; recipe virality became fair game for everyone.
Here are nine of our favorite viral TikTok food hacks, recipe shortcuts, and culinary trends that reached peak popularity this year, spawning copycat videos and new renditions across the platform.
#1: Strawberry Pancake Cereal
This unique and very cute recipe received more than 253,000 Likes and was posted by My Nguyen, a chef and author known as @myhealthydish on TikTok. She mixed pancake batter with strawberry Nesquik and used a squeeze bottle to form coin-size pancakes on an electric griddle, cooking them to golden perfection. After that, she put the tiny pancakes in a bowl, covered them in light syrup, and added milk.
#2: Dalgona, or Whipped Coffee
Sweet, fluffy, and very aesthetic, Dalgona coffee was all over TikTok after popular South Korean actor Jung Il-woo was filmed drinking it in Macau. In a video viewed over 15 million times by Hannah Cho, @imhannahcho, she beat instant coffee, sugar, and hot water with a spoon until it had a thick consistency. The whipped coffee was then poured over milk and ice.
#3: One-Pan Breakfast Sandwich
Tara Ippolito, @aldentediva, showcased the one-pan breakfast sandwich hack for her followers, receiving more than 3.7 million likes for her efforts. The pan-layering process involved scrambled eggs, two slices of toast, and fillings before the ingredients were folded and flipped for a mighty, no-fuss, single-skillet breakfast sandwich without the need for a toaster. (Campers: Take note.)
#4: Vegan “Chicken”
In February, TikTok users tried out a viral seitan recipe after @futurelettuce posted his own vegan chicken replacement, earning more than 10 million views. The main ingredients are flour and water, soaked and kneaded in more water, before it’s completed with flavorful seasoning. The twisted dough was simmered with veggie stock, resulting in a pull-apart texture that shreds and looks just like the real thing.
#5: Baked Feta Pasta
Chef MacKenzie Smith (@grilledcheesesocial) posted a super simple baked feta pasta recipe that originally gained online virality from Finnish food bloggers Tiiu Piret and Jenni Häyrinen. This time, though, the creation caught fire on TikTok. After cherry tomatoes and a block of feta are baked with olive oil, salt, and crushed red pepper, the ingredients form a salty-sweet sauce ready to be tossed with cooked pasta and fresh basil. The recipe became so popular that commenters began to complain of feta shortages at their local grocers.
#6: Cloud Bread
This fluffy, puffy “bread” took off on TikTok with 3.1 billion views of #cloudbread across the platform. This super-easy recipe has only a few ingredients and steps: egg whites, sugar, and cornstarch whipped to peaks in a bowl, shaped on a pan, and baked. In Abigail Hwang-Nable’s (@abimhn) video, she walked viewers through the steps and likened the texture to “cotton candy.” Her video was viewed more than 33.2 million times.
#7: Folded Tortilla Sandwich
Alexandra Johnsson’s (@simplefood4you) take on @crystalscookingfun’s quartered and folded tortilla sandwich was one of many to garner attention this year. Johnson packed hers with mozzarella cheese, avocado, bacon, jalapeno mustard, and chicken before folding each quarter into the next, and sealing it between a panini press. Since tri-layer sandwich took off, the hashtag #tortillatrend has gained more than 4.4 billion views across users’ unique spins.
#8: Stretchy Hasselback Potatoes
French fries, who? These springy, crispy potatoes are still all the rage on TikTok. In Hajar Larbah’s (@moribyan) popular version, she showed viewers how to create these textured, extra crunchy potatoes, adding surface-level cuts in two directions across thick slices, giving them accordion-like stretch. More than 656,000 users gave it a Like.
#9: Creamy Ramen Hack
This trend didn’t originate on TikTok, but @teekeatz’s video of the luxurious ramen upgrade has taken over the platform with 6.6 million views. Any package of instant noodles will do. Whisk the seasoning package, one grated garlic clove, a raw egg, and a squirt of Kewpie Mayo. (Do not try to substitute — this delicious and distinct Japanese mayonnaise is the key!) Add boiling water and noodles and mix. Once it’s emulsified, you’ll never guess this creamy, dreamy ramen costs just a couple of bucks.
Katie Powers is pursuing a master’s degree in publishing and writing at Emerson College.